Fastest race ever. Most lead changes ever. Barely any crashes. The most popular winner possible. Holy shit.
Tony Kanaan has been the perennial bridesmaid here at IMS, seemingly coming up short every time through no fault of his own. He's kinda snakebit at this joint, like a modern Andretti curse.
Today was the day he kicked that curse. Tony didn't start up front, but he always finds his way there, and quickly. I watched as he picked off car by car until he started trading the lead with Marco Andretti back and forth.
After an early crash from JR Hildebrand, a long green stretch started off a record setting speed for the 500. This was the fastest 500 in history, averaging an amazing 187.433. But that's not the most impressive part of this race.
Last year, there were 34 lead changes at Indy, which was an all time record. This year, there were 68 LEAD CHANGES. That's one every 3 laps, on average.
Amazing. And that's without restrictor plates or fenders. That's just with power and balls. And a car that is incredibly racy on IndyCar's marquee track.
You also had great stories, like Penske driver AJ Allmendinger leading for a good chunk of the middle of the race. That had to mean a lot to Allmendinger, who was suspended from NASCAR last year after a drug violation. It's a big part of his redemption.
But his belts came loose, and he had to pit to get them tightened. It sent him off sequence, and took him out of contention for the win. He ended up seventh.
It wasn't Allmendinger's race to win though. It was between Kanaan and Marco Andretti all day. These are two of the drivers with the worst luck at Indy, and after trading the lead all afternoon, it looked like neither would win.
The Andretti cars were super strong all day, and Marco's teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay was in the lead when Graham Rahal hit the wall on lap 194. I thought that was it. I didn't think they'd get it cleaned up. But they did, and they restarted with three to go.
And Kanaan, who was in second, went for it. So did rookie revelation Carlos Munoz. They split Hunter-Reay into turn one, with Kanaan grabbing the lead and Munoz getting into second, right where he started. Then, in turn two, three-time winner Dario Franchitti smacked the wall.
The yellow came out, and that was it, Kanaan had finally won his first Indy 500, followed by Munoz and Hunter-Reay.
Now, you'll notice that I'm kind of light on details. And there's a good reason for that: I spent my day wandering the track, taking in the sights and sounds. I stood at pit exit for the start to see the cars dive into turn one. Got up to higher ground to see them on the front straight. And spent the last third of the race at pit in, watching these guys thunder off turn four down the straight.
It was staggering to see in person. These cars sound great. They look, well, questionable. But the quality of the racing was superb. Sebastian Bourdais crashed in the pits and I'm lucky he didn't hit me. Watch the replay, you'll see me running out of the way, probably.
I'm tired, sunburnt, and my feet hurt. But I wouldn't trade today for anything.
Today was one of the most amazing race experiences I've ever had. I sure hope it translated to TV, because it was dynamite in person. Now I need to watch a recording of it so I know what exactly happened.